dredge mining, what can I say its fantastic, best thing since sliced bread. Go buy all the equipment and dredge the shit out of every river you can. Then tell everyone how much money you are making on gold that's just there for the taking so they can share the wealth, no wait don't tell them, then you'll have it all to yourself.
Luckily no one will want to fish anywhere near your operation, so you can set up shop, then have the entire section to yourself to cast your flies. Let us know how many fish you catch.
All you gotta do is pump the streambed up and run it through this here contraption. Boomshakalaka instant riches. Those fish didn't need that gold anyways, and you gave them back all the rocks and mud, that shit is worthless.
Bottom line, I don't care who you are ITS NOT YOUR RIVER TO PROFIT FROM. Get a job.
I would say that it would equate to me coming over to your house, smoking three packs of Pal Mal unfiltered cigarettes and then taking a shit on your floor. As much as I might enjoy that it probably wouldn't be real healthy for you. Just leave the rivers alone man!
I would like to retell a story of the Inmachuck River in NW Alaska. Historically, the river was so full of silt there was no population of any salmon species. This was confirmed by the fact there was no Inupiat name for salmon in that river. After the dredge miners of the 20's and 30's cleaned out all the silt by years of dredging (I have no doubt the river was a muddy mess) the river bed had been flushed of all the silt and good clean gravel was then exposed for spawning activities. The salmon returned in record numbers, along with Char- really big Char.
There is a recent article about the Toutle River after the eruption of Mt St Helens. Even with all the mud and debris, steelhead in record numbers returned to the river in within 5 years. ( Since the introduction of hatchery fish, the population has declined)
How many hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of silt were flushed down the Elwha River, only to see a return of salmon and steel head within one year.
I feel dredging has a bad rap, because it looks nasty and some very irresponsible people abuse the use. If done properly, responsibly and most importantly at the right time in run-off, the actual damage is small and is far less than natural occurring events. Think of what your favorite river looks like in the first few major rain events in the fall, just after the salmon have spawned. Turbidity is off the scale. How many tons of silt and debris are being flushed in those events.
I'll get lambasted for my view, OK I have big shoulders. Most of the previous comments are all based on perception and not much fact.
When I working they tried to get "recreational" suction dredging defined as a recreational activity and therefore in my area. My response was suction dredging just like driving cars over cliffs and dumping of garbage, meth labs, etc. etc. was NOT a recreational activity.
Just because people do it....does not mean its recreation.
Most guys that use suction dredges are nice guys. Being nice does not give you a right to trash public resources.
Fact is all mining ajacent or in streams should be illegal. Just because someone can make money doing something, does not mean it is wise to allow them to do it. I'll venture a guess that enforcement is as infrequent/effective as with other natural resources. Funding just never seems to be available.
Small-scale operations? As Ross says, it depends on how/when you do it. Personally, I'd like to see it banned. Disturbing a spawning stream is disturbing the stream, no matter how little it's disturbed. Very small-scale operations, run with a full employment of mitigation for environmental factors, probably won't do much harm. Notice i said "much" harm. They're NOT benign however.
Then there's the issue of protecting one's claim. This got out of hand in several areas on the Yuba in California, and I've encountered more than one "miner"-and i use that term as a pejorative-who felt I might drop my fly rod and pull out my suction dredge and jump his shitty little claim. I don't know what it's like now, but there used to be plenty of "no trespassing" signs on and in the river, and more than one of these shitheads would defend their piss-ant little "claim" with the point of a firearm. If you want a hobby, get a pan. If you want to get rich, take up gambling, or working ponzi schemes.
Rory, graduate from the Colorado School of mines engineering program, it is a guaranteed outstanding paycheck for life. Working for a paycheck vs. waiting to win the lottery will pay off vastly better in the short and long runs. There are no doubt ways for a smart guy like you to get involved in advocating for, planning, and conducting responsible and environmentally astute mining. (Maybe there is such a thing as what I just wrote, maybe not...)